The Toronto Blue Jays know how to party! After they clinched the American League East title, they showed that in spades. The visiting dugout at Camden Yards resembled a frat house on steroids as opposed to a baseball locker room. Beer was flying, champagne was flowing. Yup, they were whopping it up like we’ve never seen around these parts. Never.
The last time the Blue Jays won anything was in 1993 and the celebrations were not as wild. In fact, that is what has sparked some to criticize the 2015 edition of this club. Some say the celebrations were too much. ‘There’s no need for Josh Donaldson to be yelling “One beer, two beers, three beers, four beers” of for Munenori Kawasaki to publicly announce that he’s drunk’ they say.
It’s immature and doesn’t show the class that comes with being a graceful winner. Some even went so far as to say that winning the division is not that much of an accomplishment and does not deserve such debauchery. While that notion has already been addressed by Keegan Matheson, I’d like to take a moment to address all the fuddy duddys in the room.
Don’t blame the Toronto Blue Jays for the level of celebration. They’re merely existing in a time of uber-celebrations.
Toronto Blue Jays
The amount of attention paid to in game accomplishments has become insidious. MLB will tweet constant updates from the moment someone appears to be approaching a no hitter. Now, they at least wait until the 6th inning (or so) to start these, but make no mistake, they are pushing these fast and hard. Our phones blow up with the notifications that so and so is throwing a no-no through __ innings, or with “live look ins” as Player X approaches __ homeruns for his career. Think back to when David Ortiz was ready to hit that mark. Think there wasn’t celebrating going on?
When Cal Ripken Jr. broke the consecutive games played mark, they stopped the game before it was even finished to celebrate his accomplishment. And, they should have. It is one of the best individual achievements in sports. Think about Derek Jeter‘s 3000 hit. Think about the myriad of celebrations that go on around baseball in the run of a year. How much attention and celebration do each of these things get? They certainly are not equal to winning the World Series, but we celebrate them for days.
We do the same thing with amazing or outstanding plays made in the field. We watch, re-watch, create gifs, share and tweet all of those highlight catches that Kevin Pillar makes on a nightly basis. Mike Trout recently robbed a home run that was an incredible feat. And then we saw it and heard about it for days. Baseball loves to celebrate those things.
Think about the walk off homeruns and the crowding at the plate that has become almost expected. It is second nature to mob a guy at the plate after he tosses his helmet aside. In fact, it has evolved into giving him shots in the ribs and taking his shirt off. Think that isn’t over the top? Of course it is. But, we love it! We love it when guys like Prince Fielder hit a walk off home run and then comes home, jump on the plate and all of his teammates fall to the ground around him as though he just exploded. It’s entertaining. We love the celebration.
Still not convinced? OK. What about the bat flip? Baseball has fallen in love with a little toss of the bat. When Jose Bautista took Darren O’Day deep, the bat flip was the final piece of payback. Where would we be without the bat flips of Yasiel Puig? He’s probably the epitome of celebrations and the poster boy for the new MLB. The celebration of what you just did to an opponent has become so celebrated and common place that even little kids are imitating it. And, when they do, it goes viral.
The last time the Yankees came to Rogers Centre, Liam Hendriks struck out Alex Rodriguez and exploded with pure energy and passion. And, we loved it. We loved the whiff, but we loved his passion. And, that is what baseball has become: a hypercharged battle field where only the most passionate survive. It is not your grandfather’s game anymore. Baseball is full of boisterous celebration for what might seem like minor achievements.
And, why not? This game is hard. It takes a special talent to succeed. Heck, even those with said special talent don’t always succeed. The Toronto Blue Jays have been failing for 22 years. Guys like Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Cecil have witnessed it for too long. Shouldn’t they deserve a celebration? Of course. Perhaps, if they’d won years ago, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
But, they didn’t. They won in 2015, in the middle of an era in baseball that celebrates everything. It makes superheroes out of ordinary men who are playing a game for a living. You can’t fault this club for going crazy when they win. The Toronto Blue Jays manner of celebration is not over the top. In fact, it is a by product of what baseball has now become. Yes, they have work to do, but they have achieved something. For that, they celebrated. And, in modern baseball, there is no such thing as over the top celebration.